A 22-year-old woman was reportedly killed with a bottle shard on Monday morning in Caracas, Venezuela, after asking a friend to borrow 1000 bolivars ($0.05) for a bus ticket to renew her identification.
Under the socialist rule of late dictator Hugo Chávez and, later, current dictator Nicolás Maduro, what was once South America’s wealthiest nation has become one of the world’s deadliest, regularly topping annual lists in rates of homicide and other violent crimes. Fights over food, drug crime, and violent attacks against anti-socialist dissidents are routine. Maduro’s government does little to solve the problem and actively participates in drug trafficking and violent repression of opposition voices.
According to reports citing local witnesses in the Venezuelan outlets Runrunes and El Nacional, 22-year-old Emily Fabiola Rosendo Arrieta walked to a bus stop in Caracas seeking a ride to a government agency to procure a national identification card. The Venezuelan regime forces citizens to use what it calls a “Fatherland card” to track voting, food rationing, and other activities the government monitors for signs of dissident behavior. Without this card, buying food, fuel, and other necessities is nearly impossible.
Reports indicate that Rosendo asked an unnamed 18-year-old, described as a homeless “friend” that Rosendo had known for years from when she herself was homeless two years ago, for the 1000 bolivars to take the bus. The friend said no.
“He said he didn’t have it and she got annoyed, she said he always seemed to have money for everybody else except for her,” an unnamed female friend of Rosendo’s who spoke to Runrunes said. The female friend had gone to the bus station with Rosendo and witnessed the killing. The friend had also taken Rosendo in, saving her from homelessness, and helped her find work at a snack stand.
Rosendo and the 18-year-old reportedly engaged in a physical altercation after Rosendo expressed frustration with him. She turned her back to him, witnesses said, when he grabbed a broken bottle and stabbed her in the throat. She reportedly begged onlookers not to let her die before police took her to the closest hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
Rosendo had plans to leave Venezuela next week via Cúcuta, a Colombian border city.
Violent crimes over food or small sums of money in Venezuela are common, particularly in Caracas, a city regularly named one of the world’s most dangerous. The Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, a Mexican organization that tracks global violent crime, ranked Caracas the third deadliest city in the world for 2018, behind only Tijuana and Acapulco, Mexico. While the Mexican cities had higher rates of homicides per capita, Caracas tallied the larger raw number of homicides at 2,980.
The killings disproportionately affect young Venezuelans. The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV), an NGO operating in the country, found in a report released in June that nearly 1,500 minors were victims of deadly violence in 2018 nationwide. The total killed in violent attacks was 23,034 that year. While extreme poverty fuels violent crime in the country, many of those killed died at the hands of socialist police forces during peaceful protests against the regime.
The Maduro regime continues to cling to power despite no longer having the legal authority to do so. Maduro claims to have won re-election to the presidency in the May 20, 2018, election. The election was widely dismissed in the free world as having been fraudulent, marred by ballot irregularities, violence against dissidents, Maduro blocking non-socialist presidential candidates, and an opposition boycott that yielded record-low turnout. In January, when Maduro’s most recent term ended, the country’s National Assembly — the only remaining democratically elected institution in the country — ousted Maduro and replaced him with current President Juan Guaidó.
While most of Latin America and the free world recognize Guaidó as the nation’s president, he has failed to secure control of the armed forces and act as commander-in-chief, and Maduro refuses to vacate the presidential palace. As such, Guaidó has yet to have the ability to execute his powers as president.